Philadelphia, Pa., now has the economic incentives, research capability and talent to regain its status as a textiles giant, advocates said at the first Greater Philadelphia Smart Fabrics Conference at Drexel University. To serve industry collaboration, Drexel is taking the lead in establishing the Fabric Discovery Center to be based in the Schuylkill Yards innovation zone adjacent to the university campus.
The report by www.philly.com says other institutions will also aid the meeting of minds. Medical-centric Thomas Jefferson University will merge with East Falls’ Philadelphia University, formerly known as Philadelphia College of Textiles and Sciences and still noted for fabric design and research.
The consolidation will offer research opportunities in the development of wearable garments that monitor health, said Jefferson provost Mark Tykocinski and professor Mark A. Sunderland, who holds the Robert Reichlin High Performance Apparel Chair at Philadelphia University and is managing principal of Textile Innovation Technologies LLC.
Growth is expected at the Chester County–based research and development facility of Saint-Gobain Technical Fabrics, said technical director Nancy Brown. Saint-Gobain focuses on architectural materials that can make buildings smarter.
Also noted at the conference were international collaborations spurred by the Philadelphia-Israel Chamber of Commerce. The organization’s executive director, Vered Nohi, brought eight fabric-focused Israeli companies to the Smart Fabrics Conference as well as a representative of the BIRD Foundation, which offers grants for jointly developed Israel-U.S. projects.
One of the products that may support the success of the Pennsylvania-world collaborations is the first CE marking/FDA-approved electrocardiogram tracking digital vest, developed by HealthWatch Ltd., based in Israel. The vest’s fabric-based X-Static biometric sensors are sourced from Noble Biomaterials in Scranton, Pa.